How Diversity Activist Teresa Baker Is Promoting Racial Equity in the Outdoors

Every day in June, FN is showcasing female leaders across the industry for our Women in Power series.

Teresa Baker is a fresh voice the outdoor market needs: a representative outside the industry who vows to create change within it.

Although real estate is what pays her bills, Baker’s work in the outdoors is passion-driven and stems from the visible lack of racial diversity where she chooses to explore.

“As a kid, I didn’t notice people who were around me. It wasn’t until my adulthood when I started visiting National Parks more and [realizing] that I didn’t see people who looked like me, people of color — especially in Yosemite, which I would visit once or twice a month,” Baker explained.

Rather than sit on the sidelines, the California native launched into action.

In 2013, Baker created the African American National Parks Event, a weekend to encourage people of color to visit one in June. Since then, she launched a program to honor the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. (The first group rangers in national parks, stationed in the Bay Area, were African Americans.)

Baker also expanded her efforts to work directly with brands on diversity matters.

She launched the Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge during Outdoor Retailer in July 2018, asking execs at the Denver event to make their companies and marketing racially diverse and to publicly share the experiences.

But her efforts haven’t come without their share of tests.

At the January 2019 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Denver, Camber Outdoors revealed its CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge. Its then- executive director, Deanne Buck, called it the “first of its kind,” which was met with intense criticism.

After the fallout died down and Buck resigned, conversations began between Baker and Camber. And rather than harboring resentment, she is focused on collaboration.

“What I try to get people to understand is mistakes will be made, but as long as we can be responsible in our response, we can move forward,” Baker said. “I truly believe Camber and I are on the positive path forward, and my hope is that what took place does not affect the industry at large. If we all come to the table with sincere conversation and an attempt to move forward with action, we will make strides.”

Below, watch our video with Keds president Gillian Meek on how to succeed as a woman in the shoe industry.

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